There was a time when people
in their 60s and beyond wouldn’t think of rejoining the
workforce. But today, things are different. Many retirees are
looking for full and part time jobs – many employers are
looking to hire them.
Historically, many folks stopped working when
they hit their late 50s or 60s because the skills they possessed
were no longer appropriate. Some jobs were eliminated and others
were replaced by advanced technology; as a result, some people
were forced to retire.
Now, however, many retirees want to get back
to work. Some need to supplement their retirement income, because
Social Security benefits have not kept pace with cost-of-living
increases. Others simply want to keep busy. But regardless of
the reasons, when older people rejoin the workforce, everyone
reaps the benefits.
Kevin Galvin, owner of Colonial Handyman, a
residential and commercial repair company in West Hartford,
says that five of his full-time staff of 10 were hired through
West Hartford’s Senior Job Bank. Richard Briggs, president
of Buell Securities Corp. in Wethersfield, has also hired secretaries
and receptionists through Senior Job Bank.
In recent years, the role of employer pensions,
earnings and asset income has become a priority in the income
picture for older Americans. Social Security income is barely
adequate for a majority of older people; and with the reforms
now being discussed, there could be significant changes in that
source of income.
Today, income for the retirement years typically
comes from three sources: Social Security, employer pensions
and savings. Earnings from employment, however, continue to
play an important role in the finances of older people. Those
with earnings are most likely to be in the highest 20 percent
of income distribution.
The bottom line is this: older people are looking
for full-or-part-time jobs to supplement their other sources
of income. They also seek activities to which to devote their
energy. Not surprising, studies show that older people who rejoin
the workforce are more likely to enjoy healthier, happier and
Whatever the reason, the tables are beginning
to turn. It’s not unusual to find retraining and job opportunities
for older Americans. The number of seniors looking for jobs
is growing, and employers want to hire them. In some cases,
companies find it makes good business sense to hire people over
65 because they require fewer employee benefits, such as medical
Patricia Newton is Executive Director of the
Senior Job Bank. The non-profit organization serves the Greater
Hartford area, and Newton places people over 55 (the average
age is 63) in various jobs throughout the area.
Retraining employees age 55 or older can be
very cost-effective. These people may still be working in 10
– 15 years, and Newton believes employers should make
the investment. She says this would also increase people’s
spending power in the community, and the result would be a boom
to the local economy.
Newton also says that frequently older people
who are looking for jobs want to do something related to what
they have done previously. For example, a retired teacher wanted
to work with children, and was referred to a local toy store
that needed sales help. Another retiree with an interest in
history is now working in a bookstore at a state park.
In 1996, the Senior Job Bank places a total
of 1,130 men and women in part-time jobs. Of that number, 190
were in businesses such as law and accounting offices and retail
sales establishments. An additional 940 were at-home placements
that included child-care positions and home health aides.
Kevin Galvin, Vice President of the Greater
Hartford Chamber Commerce, has some advice for business owners
considering hiring older workers:
“Older people will jump-start your business,”
he says, “It’s that simple.”